Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals transmitted through saliva or brain/nervous system tissue. Animals that commonly spread rabies in the United States include raccoons, bats, skunks, and foxes. People and pets can get rabies either from a bite from a rabid animal or possibly through scratches, abrasions, open wounds, or mucous membranes in contact with saliva or brain tissue from a rabid animal. Animals infected with rabies usually display behavior such as aggression and signs of neurologic impairment including vocalization, circling, and paralysis.
If you believe you have been exposed to rabies, wash any wounds immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention. Left untreated, rabies attacks the nervous system and causes disease in the brain and death.
Keep your rabies vaccinations up-to-date for all cats, dogs, and ferrets. Contact your veterinarian regarding the rabies vaccine. In addition, many local municipalities offer free rabies clinics to their residents.